Acquittal Aftermath

Students express their dismay about U.S. Senate impeachment trial


Student artist Aidan Choi’s rendition of the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol shows President Donald Trump looking on as his supporters breach the building’s defenses. On Jan. 6, rioters stormed the capitol in an event that shocked the nation and left five Americans dead. Many of those who were present at the insurrection were dedicated supporters of then-President Donald Trump. “His large fanbase will not be going anywhere anytime soon,” says Palo Alto High School senior Zoe McCrea.

Anna Hickey and Gwyneth Wong

The newsflash that pinged across senior Leslie Aboytes’s phone alerted her along with millions of others around the world about the outcome of the U.S. Senate impeachment trial. On Feb. 13, the Senate acquitted Trump of the accusation that he incited the Capitol riot in his second impeachment trial. Given that the majority of the students at Palo Alto High School are liberal and many opposed the actions of Donald Trump during his presidency, it’s not surprising that many expressed feelings of dismay when they heard the outcome.

Initial Reactions

Aboytes, a member of the Middle Ground Club, which engages students in conversations about controversial social topics, said that the result of the trial was expected. 

“I wasn’t too shocked and it was kind of expected,” Aboytes said. 

Among other students who shared this sentiment, senior Zoe McCrea said she believes the result was not surprising because of past events and outcomes during his presidency.

“I don’t think I was really surprised that he was acquitted and not convicted just based on how I’ve seen these things go in the past,” McCrea said. “I honestly didn’t know exactly how it was going to be handled in court.”

Unfulfilled Expectations

Many students hoped that the harm of the insurrection on the Capitol would be enough to bring Trump’s federal political career to a close. Yet, the lack of support for the impeachment drew disappointment. 

“It was really disappointing to see the lack of integrity,” senior and fellow Middle Ground member Anna Mickelson said. “You can’t claim that you’re working for the benefit of the people and that you’re contributing to the government to help the people.”

Aboytes agrees with Mickelson, arguing that a vote against the impeachment is a vote against the people.

“By not impeaching [Trump], they are giving their support to everyone who stormed the capitol,” Aboytes said. “That’s their way of saying their stance on the issue or giving their support to the insurrection without outright saying it.”

Other students remained hopeful and believed that the members of the Republican party would follow their consciences.

I thought at least Mitt Romney would vote to impeach and I expected there was a good chance a few more would,” senior Malia Wanderer said. “But, I didn’t think there would be enough Republicans voting to impeach because of the polarization between parties.”

Senior Emma Cudahy echoed this statement, applauding the Republican senators who demonstrated political courage.

“I’m somewhat impressed with the Republican senators who voted against him because going against your base and risking losing your political support isn’t an easy decision,” Cudahy said. “But, it’s incredibly disappointing that so many Republican party members across the country are still on Trump’s side. I know that a lot of people, myself included, were hoping that this [his role in the Capitol riot] would be the line.”


Mickelson said, “There actually is a really scary possibility that [Trump] can run again and he could win, and that’s just terrifying to think that that’s where our country is at.” 

However, Anusha Sarkar, another senior said, “He [Donald Trump] will be much less likely to win the 2024 election, supposing he runs, which I think will be better for this country.” 

Even through Trump’s presidency has come to an end, many students agree that the impact he left on the nation will last forever.

Cudahy said, “This [The result of the impeachment] further confirms that the end of Trump’s presidency is not the end of the America he created.”